DCIB Book Club Week 2: Montgomery Short Stories! Let’s Discuss!

Oh boy! I am so excited to talk about these with someone. They are a little obscure, but I love them, and can’t wait for others to love them as well.

First most important question: Which did you like best?

Was it Quarantine, with the bossy church lady and grumpy old bachelor?

Or Hurrying, with the sweet easy going farm woman who unconsciously charms the visiting city man?

Or Cecil, with the shy dreamy spinster?

I am 100% Cecil. I love that story, our heroine is so sweet and her motivations are so clear, and the hero is so charming at the end and clearly in love with her at first sight.

Second question, have you read Montgomery before? I’m just curious, I think of her as a universal taste, but I am surprised by how some people just don’t know her at all.

Third question, which of these short stories would you remake, if you could only make one, into an Indian film?

I already wrote my Cecil remake (Tabu as heroine, Shahrukh as hero, obviously). But I am tempted at the thought of Quarantine with one of the older actresses, or hurrying as kind of an unconventional love story.

21 thoughts on “DCIB Book Club Week 2: Montgomery Short Stories! Let’s Discuss!

  1. Yes to reading Montgomery before. I’m not sure there’s something of her’s I haven’t read!

    I really liked Cecil too! What’s really interesting about it is that everyone is in the shadows. You don’t really know Cecil or the protagonist in terms of their specific likes, dislikes, even their ways of speaking are so…normal (aside from Jane). No enunciations, no high-flying language, it’s a story you can almost easily transport anyone into. It could be a weakness, but when juxtaposed with all of Montogomery’s strong and varied characters, it’s a strength. It’s a very funny form of fantasy, it could almost be a Y/N fic.

    I also think part of the reason I like this best is because it has no mention of Anne Shirley-Blythe. Of course, I know that she wrote all these stories earlier then repackaged them as ‘Anne’ stories to make them sell, but good Lord, Anne is insufferable Book 6 (Anne of Ingleside) onwards. 3 was where the weaknesses started to show (which makes sense, because Montgomery didn’t even want to go that far) and then by four I was tired. Five was good, but I think that’s also because it’s in the correct order of writing (1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 6, 4, 9). Anyway, point being. No more Anne mentions!!

    An Emily mention in a short story. Now that would have been interesting.

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    • I am so glad to hear that someone else also knows Montgomery! A few years back, I took a trip to Prince Edward Island to do the Tours (which was awesome, highly recommend the experience), and half the people I described the trip to said “wait, what are you talking about? Who is Anne of Green Gables?”

      Yes! Cecil is very much the story of the sweet unnoticed personalities. Our heroine isn’t the sparkling Anne-like one, or the difficult unpleasant brilliant one. Instead it is just a nice quiet pretty-enough spinster. Which is I think kind of the point? She isn’t the kind of woman who has a romance, so she has to invent one for herself and ends up drawing in someone else who somehow never quiet had a romance.

      Yes to the publication/chronology order! I read my Mom’s 1950s set first, which was Gables-Avonlea-Island-Windy Poplars-Dreams-Ingleside-Short Stories. And then later I discovered Rainbow Valley and Rilla and went “whoa, these are way better!” And then once I found out the publication order, it is SO obvious. Windy Poplars and Ingleside are just sort of random thrown together combinations of small town stories, and Rainbow Valley and Rilla essentially just restart the story with another generation and make Anne a supporting character, much more interesting. Although reading my Mom’s set first means that I read all the short stories, and that’s good, because they are really good short stories.

      Marigold is the one I always wanted more about. She has one perfect little book, and then her story ends.

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      • I remember liking the Emily and Pat series a lot – except for the endings. I used to hear it was sad and I never quite figured it out until I re-read it recently and there is a slight tinge of sadness to it, but I can’t quite figure out where. Maybe it’s in so many pieces around the book that there’s no one place.

        I think in Ingleside Anne annoyed me as a supporting character as well. She’s too perfect. She’s rich, morally upright (although why is nobody taking care of Mary Vance?? Montgomery wants to write a kids book, but still show Anne as perfect, which isn’t going to happen, because part of being an adult and a parent is knowing when to step into a child’s life and a starving orphan is one of those times!!), distinguished, has excellent taste (even her marriage has only a 5-minute trouble, which wasn’t a trouble at all). I liked some of her spark in the short Blythes are Mentioned, but even then! Those interminable Blythes! I really wanted Anne to move to Toronto and just see more people and maybe pick up some more likes and dislikes. Have Una move on as well post-Walter.

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        • I’ve had similar experiences. Most people know it now because of the Netflix show (and UGH. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it), but it’s impossible to find book!fans, even though she’s so popular and so famous!

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        • I can’t reread the Pat series. She draws so well the pain of her brother marrying a woman she just can’t stand.

          Emily is lovely, but there are so many unhappy people in that story. So many orphans and unrequited love and all kinds of things.

          I like Anne in Rainbow Valley and I really like her in Rilla. You see her as this strong loving support to her kids, not as her own perfect heroine.

          In my mind, Una finds some nice scholarly type like her Dad and falls in love again.

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          • I don’t mind Anne in Rilla. I especially like how she and Gertrude are different role models for Rilla, each being of the race of Joseph.

            What I really liked about Sidney marrying May is that I sympathize with May as well. We never get to hear her side and Pat is being a bit unjust. It can’t be easy getting married to someone whose whole family hates you and your family and your tastes. Of course that’s going to put a strain on your marriage. And Pat is unreasonable about several things in the books. Hilary’s story with his mother was also interesting. At some point, blood means nothing, and I’m glad Montgomery shows that.

            In my mind, Una goes to Kingsport, finishes her degree, lives there for a few years, moves back home, and then after living with her parents for a while, moves into her own household with perhaps her brother Carl. She then finds someone years later who’s funny (this is important, Una needs humor in her life) and strong and intelligent, but kind of opposite to Walter in that he’s not ethereal like Walter was.

            Anyway! Sorry for the rants, I just never find someone to discuss Montgomery with!

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  2. Cecil is cute. And I oddly didn’t find it much more fantastic than the quarantine, where the resolution is only believable because you expect it from the beginning. Ludovic also overdid it with the courtship of FIFTEEN years. If I can suspend my disbelief to accept that, then I cannot at the same time believe that the same guy can be hurried at all.
    And while I liked the way our Miss Peter knows what she’s noted for, there was something “minor-musicky” or something in Cecil, so the story wins on the count of creative language, too.

    I have read one or two of the Anne books, but I’m pretty sure I only came across them in an American context quite a while after my own youth. It’s so interesting that children’s books, and youth fiction, seem to be the genre that most tends to stay within its country of origin. Children here don’t tend to know The Cat in the Hat or even The Wizard of Oz.

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    • So that’s really interesting, because AoGG was written by a Canadian author and is set in Canada – and wasn’t even a children’s book until the 1930s. I think Enid Blyton books also traversed a wide swathe of space. And I’m sure there are others. But yes, on the whole I think children’s books tend to stay within the boundaries of the countries’ they were written in. Maybe Little Women is an exception? But I’m not sure.

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    • Woo, Cecil!!! Glad everyone likes it like I do.

      It is interesting about Children’s books. While in contrast, Fairy Tales travel easily. Grimms Bros have gone everywhere in the world, and French and Italian and all kinds of things have traveled too.

      On Sun, Jan 17, 2021 at 1:21 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. I like the quarantine story the best. I loved the protaganist’s tick of saying that everybody knew that about her. And seeing bickering people fall in love is something I guess I have a soft spot for. I thought the cat and dog allusions cute, and I enjoyed a cat role in a story as I am fond of cats and not so much so of dogs (and I know I’m in a minority on this blog for that one).

    To throw in some controversy I’ll admit that I was not fond of the Cecil story. Once her made up name was stated I knew how the story would end, and while on the one hand it was boring, on the other hand it was more offensive than the other tales that the old maid couldn’t just be happy being an old maid, and really did in fact need her knight in shining armor to magically appear to fix her life. The quarantine story as well as the 15 year courtship tales both gave more respect to their characters. Although the 15 year courtship tale also needed a knight, in this case Anne, to come in and solve all their problems. In defense of the 15 year courtship tale that is Anne’s role in most of her stories. Still thought the quarantine story had two protaganists who made decisions for themselves and were happy with themselves both before and after their self chosen love affairs. It was certainly my favorite story.

    I read all of the Anne books, though I don’t remember them so well now and couldn’t tell you which books were better than others. I loved the old Anne of Green Gables mini series but always felt that the Anne actress was too pretty, and had her rough Anne edges sanded off. The Netflix Anne with an E kept those edges intact, but changed storylines which I couldn’t stomach.

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    • Finally some love for the quarantine love story! I think you have perfectly described what I like best about it too. They aren’t two miserable people with empty lives who change entirely after finding love, they are two busy contented people who decide they can be slightly more contented if they are together. And they don’t change for each other at all, they like each other for what they are.

      I was going to say “but don’t you remember the books better now that your kids are reading them?” and then I remembered YOU ONLY HAVE BOYS!!!! This was one of the (many) depressing thoughts I had when I learned I would have a nephew instead of a niece. no one to share my favorite books with, now I have to read dumb boy books about trucks and stuff. And that’s on top of not being able to buy pretty baby clothes and a 90% chance that he won’t be in love with SRk either.

      On Sun, Jan 17, 2021 at 2:49 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I’ve gotten to read of number of non-boy books to my kids, most recently Cheaper By the Dozen. But yes, getting them to sit through Anne of Green Gables will be a challenge. I started a about two years ago, but then gave up. The nine year old though, that one is more into those kind of stories than the others so maybe I can get him to listen to the first book at least.

        When my sister had her second child, a girl, I was so excited to buy girl clothes. But by the age of 4 my niece’s tastes were so particular I couldn’t buy anything anymore.

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        • I loved Cheaper By the Dozen! That was a read aloud in our family too. And it is kind of a not-boy book, but then it’s got a lot of boys in it. Hmm.

          On Sun, Jan 17, 2021 at 9:20 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Cheaper by the Dozen made me think of the movie (which is barely, if at all, related to the books) and which made me think of Yours, Mine, and Ours and it’s Indian “remake” which is fantastic! If you have never seen it, you should check out Khatta Meeta with Ashok Kumar and Pearl Padamsee. The kids might be bored and it is an old movie. But it is on Prime and it is such a great older romance and depiction of Parsi culture in India.

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  4. Soooo late to the party, but I loved the quarantine story! She’s just so sassy, or as she would say ‘tart’ and I just loved that that couple was so self-assured when it came to who they were as people and their beliefs. I could totally see Vidya or Kajol absolutely killing in a role like this.

    Overall, I just loved these more grown up love stories and how these characters approached their lives and romances. With a sense of humor about it all, which I really liked.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved the Quarantine Story so much. They were both just so perfectly imperfect and absolutely meant for each other. I agree with others that I think Kajol would be great at playing a prickly heroine. And I really think ShahRukh would be such a great as the hero.

    Overall, I loved that the heroines were actually older and not women in their 20s. It was very refreshing!

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    • Yes!!! And back then, women in their twenties would even be “older”, she has plenty of heroines who are considered past their prime spinsters at 27. But with these stories, she purposefully made it a lot older.

      On Tue, Jan 19, 2021 at 3:46 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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